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As longtime readers of this screed know all too well, I’ve been obsessed by the Roadless Rule for a long time. The trigger for this was when several states, the timber industry, a few counties, some off-road vehicle interests, and an Indian tribe challenged the rule in court.
So far, nothing unusual. We intervened on behalf of a wide variety of environmental groups. Still hardly front-page news.
The Forest Service under the brand-new Bush administration mounted only a tepid defense of the rule, and it was declared illegal by a judge in Idaho in 2001 and another judge in Wyoming in 2003.
The government declined to appeal the ensuing injunctions, but Earthjustice did. It remains the only instance I know of where we, as intervenors, were able to carry an appeal of an adverse judgment when the principal defendant (the Forest Service in this case), has capitulated. The story isn’t over yet, but so far the litigation has preserved nearly all remaining roadless areas.
Well, it’s all down now in a book by your ‘umble correspondent: Roadless Rules—The Struggle for the Last Wild Forests. The book is about much more than the litigation. I trace the history of forest conservation, the genesis and creation of the rule itself, and value of roadless areas to wildlife, recreation, clean water, and all the rest.